It was Mission Accomplished for a band of 50 volunteers who traveled to New York City this weekend to stand outside NBC Studios Monday morning for the popular “Today” show, making sure a national television audience knew something about Mesothelioma Awareness Day today.
Even amid the usual crowd of screamers, hand wavers and gawkers who gather for the show each morning, it was impossible to ignore so many volunteers in bright orange t-shirts waving the hand held signs with the message “Cure Meso.”
Eight different times during the morning show, scattered between various segments on Herman Cain, Molly Shannon, Florence Henderson and a photographer selling previously unreleased Marilyn Monroe pictures, the Cure Meso crowd got valuable national television exposure.
Al Roker, weatherman for “Today,” had a brief on-air exchange with one volunteer, then told viewers to look at the website, curemeso.org., for more details.
Mesothelioma is the deadly cancer caused by an exposure to asbestos. It is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 Americans each year. Because it is a rare cancer, it often is overlooked when it comes to funding sources for research, which makes raising awareness so important to the cause.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) has been recognizing Sept. 26 as a Mesothelioma Awareness Day since 2004, even lobbying Congress to make it official.
There were a variety of fund raising events throughout the country throughout the weekend, all designed to bring more attention to Sept. 26. None of them drew the national attention of being part of the “Today” crowd.
Bringing the cause to New York today was especially important because of the recent 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The collapse of the Twin Towers in New York, released an estimated 400 tons of asbestos fibers into the air, which has led to a wide variety of respiratory illnesses around the city.
Cases of mesothelioma was just now coming to light, but they are expected to increased dramatically in New York City in the coming decades. This particular cancer has a latency period that is usually from 10 to 50 years from the time of exposure.